As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 1. Darl Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Darl and Jewel walk single-file on a large field, heading toward their home. On the way, they encounter an old cottonhouse, which Darl walks around while Jewel "steps in a single stride through the window." Noticing Jewel's determined stare, Darl describes his brother as having "pale eyes like wood."
Darl makes clear his love for language and his observant nature. By pointing out that Jewel walks right through the house, Darl contrasts his brother's action-focused nature against his own tendency to focus on observation and expressions of thought.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Upon reaching the foot of a bluff, Darl notices a wagon with two chairs stacked on it, arranged by the Bundrens' neighbor Vernon Tull. The brothers continue walking to the top of the bluff, where Darl becomes distracted by the sound of Cash's saw. Darl describes Cash's meticulous preparation of the coffin for their mother Addie, who is on her deathbed. Darl passes Cash without engaging with him and walks into their house.
Darl similarly emphasizes Cash's uninterrupted attention toward completing Addie's coffin, revealing Cash's inner nature as a careful, pragmatic, and detail oriented craftsman, as well as his role in the family as a man of great charity and self-sacrifice.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon